Monica Mendel Bensoussan is a member of Wexner Heritage Montreal 09 group. She is an involved member of the Montreal Jewish community through her work with the Bronfman Jewish Education Center, United Talmud Torah and Herzliah High School and the Akiva School.  Monica can be reached at

I experienced a simple, personal and intensely profound leadership moment years ago while serving as chair of my children’s elementary school Yearbook Committee. I thought it would be interesting and memorable for all the students to give some thought to some of the people/heroes that helped shape the world in which they were privileged to live. The students were asked to choose a Jewish personality, past or present, and explain why they felt this person was a hero/leader. The responses of the children were, for the most part, impressive yet predictable for students attending a Jewish Day School. They ranged from Moshe Rabeynu who received the Torah for Am Yisrael, to Albert Einstein, brilliant scientist; from Theodore Herzl, father of modern day Zionism, to Golda  Meir, first female Prime Minister of the State of Israel.

But nothing prepared me for the simple response written by my own young daughter. “My mommy”, she wrote, “is a Jewish hero because she works very hard in the community and helps the Jewish people.”

This simple note, full of spelling mistakes, touched my very soul. I saw myself through my daughter’s eyes and while I thrilled at her validation I clearly understood that my role as a community leader was one she would learn to emulate.

As we model community involvement, tikun olam and acts of tzedakah we are guaranteeing the continued strength and growth of the Jewish people.

A Jewish leader must be inspirational and who better to inspire than the next generation.

Ben Hei Hei:

“The reward is in proportion to the effort.”

Pirkei avot 5:26